An Inlaid cherry case tall clock. The case was made by the Sturbridge, MA cabinetmaker Oliver Wight.

This recently discovered tall case clock features a case that is attributed to the Sturbridge Massachusetts cabinetmaker Oliver Wight. This attribution is based on construction and design characteristics recognized during a study of Nathan Lumbard’s cabinet work. The findings and this very clock are included in the book, “Crafting Excellence The Furniture of Nathan Lumbard and His Circle.” This was written by Christie Jackson, Brock Jobe and Clark Pearce. This very clock is pictured and discussed there.

This well proportioned tall clock case is constructed in cherry and New England white pine is used as a secondary wood. The inlays are comprised of mahogany and maple selections. The case features an appropriate orange shellac finish that promotes the texture, contrast in color and the grain exhibited in the wood. This finish is currently 60 plus years old and has mellowed nicely over that time. This case stands on its original boldly formed splayed bracket feet. The form is unusual and thought to be unique to this cabinetmaker. They are delicate. It is remarkable that they have survived. They are applied to a molding which is secured to the base. The base panel is trimmed with a narrow cross-banded mahogany border. The line of framing is set at angle, “feather banding” which provides a sense of subtle movement as one changes their viewing perspective. In the center of the panel is an eight pointed star. The points are long and constructed with alternating wood of the darker mahogany and the lighter colored maple. The design of this star and the choice of woods provides a visual illusion of being three dimensional. The waist section is long. The center is fitted with a rectangular shaped waist door. This door features the same banded border exhibited on the base panel and this pattern is again repeated on the bonnet or hood door. The center of the waist door is inlaid with an additional six pointed star. This detail is constructed like the one exhibited in the base. Due to the limitations of space, this star is not as gracefully formed. Through this door, one can access the drive weights and brass faced pendulum bob. The corners of the waist are fitted with turned quarter columns a that are fluted. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet or hood is fitted with an unusual variation of the New England style pierced fret. It is a broken-arch form that features meandering vines in the pattern. This fret work is support by three chimneys or final plinths. Each of these are capped at the top and support a brass finial. Fully turned and fluted bonnet columns or colonnettes visually support the upper bonnet moldings.  These are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The sides of the hood are fitted with rectangular shaped side lights and they are fitted with glass. The arched bonnet door is also inlaid with feather banding. This door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This imported English dial having a Wilson’s false plate. The time track is done in two separate formats. The hours are indicated in Roman numerals. The five minute markers are painted in an Arabic form. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar can be seen inside the time ring. The four spandrel areas are colorfully decorated with geometric style fans. Florals, including roses are depicted in the arch. A colorfully painted bird is centered in the design.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality.  Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. The plates have a cutout in the shape of an arch in the bottom. These pillars are an unusual form in that they incorporate a cone design in their structure. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind.  It is a two train or a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system.  As a result, it will strike each hour on the hour.  This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement. 

This clock was made circa 1795. It stands approximately 96.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial. At the upper bonnet molding, this case is 20.5 inches wide and 11.25 inches deep.

RR-39

About Oliver Wight of Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Oliver Wight was born in Medway, Massachusetts on September 27, 1765 and died in Sturbridge on October 22, 1837. His Parents David Wight, born August 16th, 1733 and Catherine Morse, born March 5th 1737 were both originally from Medfield, Massachusetts and married on June 19th, 1760. Together they settled just west in Medway immediately after their marriage. Six years later, they erected a house on the great road in that town and opened it for public entertainment. Here they remained until they sold this property in 1773. In that year, they purchased 1000 acres of land in Sturbridge. Approximately 40 miles west, Sturbridge was at that time considered wild wilderness. By 1775, Mr. Wight and his three boys, David Wight 2nd, Oliver and Alpheus had cleared enough land to grow grains and grass and with this move, they become one of the first settlers of this town.

AT the age of 21, Oliver married Harmony Child in Sturbridge on July 5, 1786. They had eleven children and enjoyed a brief period of prosperity.

Oliver, like his brothers David and Alpheus, acquired property form their father who held expansive property holdings. In 1789, Oliver and Harmony were thought to have had the housewright Samuel Stetson build their Georgian style dwelling. This clap-boarded homestead featured a hipped-gable roof, two interior chimneys and a ballroom on the second story that spans the front of the building. This impressive building is now part of Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) and is one of only two buildings on the OSV property that stands on it’s original site. This property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Here, Oliver also constructed a sizable shop. Oliver was an ambitious cabinetmaker. He is said to have built chairs, tables, chests, bed steads, and other household furniture. He is recorded as advertising his wares in the Massachusetts Spy, a newspaper published in Worcester. An advertisement placed on June 13, 1793 “Respectfully informs the Publick, THAT he carries on the CABINET and CHAIRMAKING BUSINESS in it’s various branches…” Another sign of their prosperity is the existence of the couple’s portraits which can be found in the collections of The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg. They are thought to have been painted by Beardsley Limner. Financial troubles soon followed the family sometime around 1793. An advertisement placed on September 5th, 1793 in the Massachusetts Spy was taken out by Deputy Sheriff James Upham. This notice claims that Oliver had absconded and that on the 23rd of that month, He was going to sell “A PRETTY affortment (assortment) of Cabinet Work, Houfehold Furniture, Hard Ware, and many other Articles, too numerous to Mention…” in order to eliminate three hundred and fifty (British) pounds of debt. Later, the family was forced to sell the house in 1795. Oliver moves to Providence, Rhode Island and in April of 1802, The Massachusetts Spy reports that Oliver is to face the court and is bankrupt.

Sale Pending

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